Pushing up the Sky
The Creator and Changer
first made the world in the East.
Then he slowly came westward,
creating as he came.
Creator and Changer brought
many languages with him, and he gave a
unique and special one to each group of
marvelous people he made.
When he reached Puget Sound, he liked it
so well that he decided to stay.
He had many languages left, so he
scattered them all around Puget Sound.
That's why there are so many
different Indian languages spoken there.
These people could not talk
together, but it happened that none
them were pleased with the way the Creator had made the world.
The sky was so low that the tall
people bumped their heads against it.
Some times people would do what was forbidden by
climbing up high in the trees and,
learning their own
words, enter the Sky
wise men of all the different tribes had a meeting to see what they could
do about lifting the sky.
They agreed that the
people should get together and try to push it up
"We can do it,"
a wise councilman said, "if we all push at the same time.
We will need
all the people and
all the animals and
all the elks to push."
will we know when to push?"
asked another of the wise men.
"Some of us live in this part of the
world, some in
another. We don't all talk
the same languages. How can we
get everyone to push at the same time?"
puzzled the men of the council, at last one
suggested they use a signal.
When the time comes for us to push, when we
have everything ready, let someone shout
'Ya-hoh.' That means 'Lift together!' in all our languages."
wise men of the council sent that message to all
the people and
animals and birds and told them on what day they were to lift the
Everyone made poles from giant fir trees to use in pushing against
The day for the sky lifting came.
people raised their poles and touched the sky with them.
wise men shouted, "Ya-hoh!"
Everybody pushed, and
the sky moved up a little.
"Ya-hoh," the wise men shouted a second time, and everybody
The sky moved a few inches more.
"Ya-hoh," all shouted,
and pushed as hard as they could push.
They kept on shouting "Ya-hoh"
and pushing until the sky fell in place.
Since then, no one has bumped
his head against it, and no one has been able to climb into the Sky World.
Now, three hunters had been chasing four elks during all the meetings
and did not know about the plan.
Just as the people and animals and
birds were ready to push the sky up, the three hunters and the four elks came
to the place where the Earth nearly meets the sky.
The jumped into the
Sky World, and the hunters ran after them.
When the sky was lifted,
elks and hunters were lifted too.
In the Sky World they were changed
into stars, and at night even now your see them.
The three hunters form
the handle of the Big Dipper.
The middle hunter has his dog with him,
now a tiny star.
The four elks make the bowl of the Big Dipper.
We still shout "Ya-hoh!" when doing hard work
together or lifting something heavy like a canoe.
When we say "Hoh!"
all of us use all the strength we have.
Our voices have a higher pitch
on that part of the word, and we make the 0 very long - "Ya-hooooh!"
The axis mundi offers a means of travel and
the two realms of Heaven and
The axis mundi is the place
where the four compass directions unite, allowing the
Light of Heaven to be disseminated
The axis mundi
resides at the center of the world at the
The axis mundi
appears in all cultures and takes many forms.
The axis mundi symbolic
image is both feminine - an umbilical providing nourishment,
and masculine, a phallus
The axis mundi may have the form
of a natural object (mountain,
tree, column of smoke or
a product of human
stairway, maypole (Irminsul),
totem pole, pillar, spire).
The axis mundi exists in the
Hindu lingam or Greek omphalos and is featured prominently in the most
technologically advanced cultures - where the impulse persists to link a
tower with the idea of a world center.
mundi is reflected in the pagoda,
People think of their own home,
place of worship as the center of
A sense of belonging
to the land or place
People think of
Self as an axis mundi as it
is the vantage point from which they study and observe the
People think the Source of the Noumenon
resides in the center but
Gnostikos know the center is
In ancient Mesopotamia the cultures
of ancient Sumer and
artificial mountains, or
ziggurats, on the
flat river plain with steep
stairways leading to ornately carved and ornamented temples, axis mundi, at the
Judaism has Mount Sinai and
Mount Zion as the axis mundi.
Christianity has the Mount of Olives and
Calvary as the axis mundi.
the Temple Mount (Dome of the Rock) and
Japan's highest mountain,
Mount Fuji, has always
Mount Kun-Lun is now the axis mundi
in China; ancient Chinese recognized
four mountains, at compass points, as pillars holding up the heavens.
To the Sioux the
Black Hills are the axis
Mount Kailash is holy as the axis mundi to several religions in
Pre-Columbian residents of Teotihuacán in Mexico erected
huge pyramids featuring stairways leading
to temples at the top - stairways to
Greeks regarded several sites as places of earth's omphalos (navel) stone,
notably the oracle at Delphi, while still maintaining a belief in
a cosmic world tree and in
Mount Olympus as the abode of the
All sacred places
constitute reality centers (omphalos) with the altar or place of prayer as the
the axis mundi.
Altars, incense sticks, candles and torches help form
the axis mundi by sending a column of smoke, and prayer, toward heaven.
The calumet, or sacred pipe, represents a column of smoke (the soul)
rising form an the axis mundi.
"Who is this that cometh up from the
wilderness like pillars of smoke,
perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?" - Song
of Solomon 3:6
of sacred places often reflects the connection between Heaven and
The stupa of Hinduism, and later
Buddhism, reflects Mount
Cathedrals are laid out in the form of a cross; the vertical bar
represents the union of Heaven and Earth with the horizontal bars
represent union of people to one another,
with the altar at the intersection.
Asian temple pagodas form a stairway
connecting Heaven and Earth.
A steeple in a church
Palaces and castles, unlike the
fortress, had towers serving
the axis mundi connection function.
Dwellings also serve as centers of reality - the axis mundi of
The hearth participates in the
symbolism of the altar and a central garden partipates in the symbolism of
a primordial garden paradise.
cultures dwellings are traditionally laid out in the form of a square oriented
toward the four compass directions - east,
Asian home was oriented toward the heavens through Feng shui, a system of
geomancy, just as a palace would be.
Traditional Arab houses are also
laid out as a square surrounding a central fountain that evokes
a primordial garden
shamanic concept, and a
universally told story, is that of
the healer traversing the axis
mundi to bring back sacred
The human form can function as an axis
Some of the more abstract Tree of Life representations, such
as the Sefirot in
Kabbalism or the Chakra system
recognized by Hinduism and
Buddhism, merge with the
concept of the human body as an axis mundi.
Disciplines of Yoga and Tai
Chi envision the human body as axis mundi.
The Renaissance image known as the
Vitruvian Man represented a symbolic and mathematical exploration of the human
form as axis mundi.
world religions regard the body itself as a temple -
an extension of Creation - and
prayer as an axis mundi uniting Heaven and
serve as an axis mundi.
Many trees in legends serve this function
World Ash, Tree
of Knowledge, Bodhi Tree,
Guatama attained enlightenment
under the Bodhi Tree.
Polynesian cultures the
banyan tree, of which the Bodhi Tree is of the Sacred Fig variety, is the abode
of ancestor spirits.
World Ash functions in
the same way in Norse mythology; it is the site where Odin found
enlightenment as does
Jievaras in Lithuanian
The Christmas tree, which can
be traced in its origins back to pre-Christian European beliefs, represents an
Oak Tree can serve as the
axis mundi as it did for pre-Christian Germanic peoples with Thor's
The Great Tree provides an axis mundi that unites three planes:
branches reach to
Heaven, trunk meets the Earth, roots
reach down to Hell.
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